Dragon Ball may start lighthearted, but it gradually gets more serious over the course of the series. Some like to say a tonal shift occurs when Raditz is introduced, while others point towards Demon King Piccolo’s much earlier inclusion, but the fact of the matter is that it was the Red Ribbon Army arc which first upped the ante and set a precedent for sincerely dramatic storytelling. Through Tao Pai Pai, an innocent life was taken and Goku found himself in mortal danger for the first time in Dragon Ball.
RELATED:Dragon Ball Z: All Of Future Trunks’ Fights, Ranked
It’s fitting, then, that the darkest story arc in Dragon Ball Z has deep ties to the Red Ribbon Army arc. Seeking revenge against Goku, Dr. Gero spends years building an army of Artificial Humans– Androids– to punish Goku with. Not all androids are created equal, with more than a few defects on the way to Cell, but Dr. Gero’s creations stand out as some of the most intimidating characters in Dragon Ball Z.
CBR VIDEO OF THE DAY
8 Android 8
The very first Red Ribbon Android introduced in the series, Dr. Gero wasn’t an established character back in the original Dragon Ball. As a result, Android 8, otherwise known as Eighter or Hatchan, never makes mention of any creator. The anime does feature a filler character by the name of Dr. Frappe, but this just causes continuity issues down the road.
Worth noting, while Android 8 is very strong, he hates violence much in the same way Android 16 will come to hate violence. Unlike 16, however, Eighter never has to sacrifice his life and instead is allowed to live peacefully in Jingle Village with Suno. Ain’t that the life?
7 Android 19
Introduced alongside Dr. Gero (as Android 20) early on in the Cell arc, Android 19 is the earliest example we as an audience have of the Artificial Humans in action. At first glance, it seems like Goku has everything in control, but he doesn’t know 19 can absorb energy. Paired with the fact he’s suffering from the Heart Virus and Goku basically hands 19 the fight.
After that, though, Android 19 is almost immediately defeated Vegeta. These are two of the best fights in the Cell arc if nothing else, but Android 19 himself is hardly the strongest of Dr. Gero’s Androids, though that mainly stems from him being the first to actually fight. The laws of Dragon Ball can be cruel like that.
6 Androids 14 & 15
Movie 7 seems to operate under the assumption that 17 and 18 were defeated in a timeline where Cell doesn’t appear for whatever reason. Not just that, it seems as though Goku hasn’t gotten the Heart Virus. Regardless of the logistics behind the film, movie 7 more or less retreads the early Cell arc, even featuring stand-ins for 17 and 18.
RELATED:Dragon Ball Z: Every Main Character Death In Order
Androids 14 and 15 are basically bland versions of their main canon counterparts. They serve the exact same purpose as they do, even losing their lives to help the real villain become complete. Needless to say, they’re probably around as strong as 17 and 18 were in the main canon– if not weaker considering how comparatively easy they’re defeated.
5 Android 13
The “Cell” to Androids 14 and 15’s “Androids 17” and “18,” Android 13 is certainly a strong character– strong enough where Goku needs the Genki Dama to kill him– but he’s still placed in a rather awkward spot in the series. It’s clear Android 13 is supposed to be stronger than Androids 17 and 18, but what of 16?
Android 16 and Cell had already fought in the manga by the time movie 7 released in July of 1992, but this hadn’t occurred in the anime yet, nor was it close to. As the anime movies tend to fall in line with where the characters’ strengths are in the anime, Android 13 was definitely stronger than 17 & 18, while Super 13 was almost certainly weaker than 16. Genki Dama or not.
4 Android 16
Despite being built before Androids 17 and 18, Android 16 is considerably stronger than his successor Artificial Humans. In the original series, it’s never explained why 16 is so much stronger, but it’s implied there’s something “wrong” with him given his personality. Regardless, 16 doesn’t like violence so he doesn’t fight much in the Cell arc.
That said, when Cell threatens 17 and 18’s lives, Android 16 steps in and gives Imperfect Cell quite the beating. He’s strong enough where he realistically could have beaten Cell even if he ultimately didn’t. Android 16 dies before he gets to show off any more of his power, but his one fight against Cell is an excellent demonstration of what the Android is capable of.
Although Cell doesn’t follow the same naming conventions as his predecessors, nor was he physically completed by Dr. Gero, he was intended as the doctor’s fail safe– collecting data in the background to create the perfect Artificial Human. Like with Android 13, Cell needs to absorb two other Artificial Humans to tap into his full power.
RELATED:10 Shonen Villains Who Need Their Own Anime
Interestingly, it seems as though the base Cell is actually weaker than Androids 16 through 18, needing to drink quite a lot of people before having the strength necessary to overwhelm the siblings. By the time Cell reaches his Super Perfect form, he’s around Super Saiyan 2 Gohan’s level and could have likely gotten even stronger.
2 Android 18
Android 18 has always been one of Dragon Ball’s strongest characters, but it’s not something the series lingers or comments on often. That said, it only makes it all the more memorable when 18 actually gets to participate in the action. The Buu arc very briefly pivots her into a more supporting role, even having her beat Goten & Trunks in a tournament fight, but it’s Super that’s done wonders for her character.
The Universe Survival arc in particular gave 18 quite a lot to do, with the anime even letting her finish off Ribrianne in one of the tournament’s best fights. Only getting stronger with an infinite amount of stamina to tap into, 18 is an asset whenever she’s around.
1 Android 17
Even though Android 17 was introduced as the stronger of the two Androids, only 18 actually got to join the main cast heading into the Buu arc. 17 was relegated to a cameo Toriyama originally intended for Lunch. Dragon Ball GT notably featured him in the role of Super 17, a fairly powerful villain.
Super’s also brought Android 17 back into the fold, but it does a much better job than GT did, having 17 serve as one of the main characters in the Universe Survival arc, strong enough to last until the very end and help Goku & Freeza defeat Jiren. Him and 18 are both back in the Moro arc lending the Earth a hand, as well. All signs point to 17 sticking around, and him remaining one of Dragon Ball’s strongest heroes.
NEXT:Dragon Ball: The 10 Toughest Enemies The Heroes Couldn’t Take Down